Tag Archive | redpolls

The January Birding Blues

Barred Owl

January, as usual, is turning out to be a wretched month for birding. First we had rain and foggy, mild temperatures two weekends ago; then last weekend we got more snow, including sudden squalls that resulted in white-out conditions; and now a cold Arctic air mass has settled over Ontario, causing the jet stream to sag to the far south (in this case, Alabama!) and temperatures to fluctuate between to -20°C during the day and -30°C at night. As a result, I’ve only been able to add two birds to my winter list and four birds to my year list since the first weekend of January.

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A Haven for Redpolls

Hermit Thrush I went to Hurdman on Tuesday for the first time in over a week and was surprised by the number of Common Redpolls that had descended on the area during my absence.  I heard them as soon as I entered the small woodland path, and when I reached the feeders I observed at least fifty or sixty of them in the area, either sitting on the two feeders, feeding on the ground, or waiting their turn in the trees. They greatly outnumbered the chickadees and House Finches; I don’t think I saw or heard 20 individual House Finches, when normally there are at least 50 around the feeders at any given time.  There were fewer goldfinches around, too, although I’m not sure whether this is due to them spreading out now that spring is imminent, of if they have been pushed out by all the redpolls. In any event, it was fun to watch the small, energetic redpolls flitting about, and they certainly afforded me with plenty of opportunities to capture them with my camera!

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Three Finches

House FinchI managed to visit Hurdman twice in the past ten days, and both times I found three species of finch. Both House Finches and American Goldfinches were abundant, as usual, but I was surprised to find one Common Redpoll on Friday and two the following Wednesday.  Although a number of redpolls were visiting the feeders at Hurdman regularly in mid-January, they had disappeared toward the end of the month and hadn’t been reported since.  Seeing them again really made my day.

A flock of Bohemian Waxwings had also been reported recently, and it was these I was looking for.  Given the abundance of berries around Hurdman Park I figured they would show up sooner or later, as they had in winters past.  I hadn’t seen them at Hurdman all season, however, and I missed them the day after they had been observed by Pat Blake.

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Unexpected Surprises

Common Redpoll

Last weekend Deb and I spent the morning birding in the east end.  It’s been a while since we’ve been to the Frank Kenny area, and as we’ve heard no reports from the east end we thought it would be worth taking a look.

The day started out sunny but cold (-14°C), so we were happy to be in the car driving around.  It soon became clear why there have been no reports from the area: there was nothing to see!  We drove from Trim Road to Wall Road and the back roads around Frank Kenny and Giroux and didn’t see a single hawk, let alone a Snowy Owl or a shrike.  There were no Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, or American Tree Sparrows to be seen either. All we saw were crows, and, close to the farm buildings, pigeons and starlings.

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More Redpolls

I returned to Hurdman on the following Tuesday. I didn’t see the Barrow’s Goldeneye that has been frequenting this section of the river, but I did see one Common Merganser and several Common Goldeneyes.

In the woods, a flock of about 150 starlings feeding on the buckthorn berries was an unexpected sight. Maybe one of these days the Bohemian Waxwings will find these berries as well! The usual birds were present at the feeders, including lots of House Finches and goldfinches and about half a dozen Common Redpolls. I was happy to find these endearing finches so accessible, and spent most of my lunch hour photographing them. Here are a few images of the redpolls feeding.

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Hurdman in January

After the holidays ended I was eager to visit Hurdman Park and add a few more birds to my year list. January 5th turned out to be a cold, sunny day, and I realized then how little sun we’ve seen in the past month. Normally November is the cloudiest month of the year here in Ottawa, but we saw a surprising amount of sun last November. It appears now that December (and perhaps January) will receive that dubious honour this winter, for I can’t recall two days in row with pure sunshine.

When I arrived at Hurdman, I noticed that the first feeder was quiet, with only a few chickadees in the area. I soon discovered that the feeder was completely empty, so I added a little of my peanut and sunflower seed mixture to the tray.
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